'Very relieved': Enthusiasm across South at level 2 announcement

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said says the council is searching for a non-residential central city...
Dunedin business owners are excited to open their doors again. Photo ODT

Dunedin business owners are excited to open their doors to customers once Cabinet decides when to move the country to Alert Level 2.

Meanwhile, the move to Alert Level 2 and the new freedoms it is set to bring has been met with enthusiasm across the rest of the South.

 

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said the resumption of airline services to Queenstown would bring a lifeline to the region, more services at Southern DHB are set to resume and Southland Regional Development Agency Great South says opening links with other regions will serve Southland well.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at the regular Covid-19 briefing this afternoon what Alert Level 2 would look like: no more bubbles, businesses can have customers, domestic travel is allowed, schools can open and gatherings limited to 100 inside and outside can occur.

Hospitality had to follow the rule of the three ''S'' words. Customers had to be seated, separated and served by one person.

She said hairdressers would need to wear the correct personal protective equipment. 

Klone Hair owners Danelle Radel and Karl Radel were "overjoyed" they could open their salon with about 600 customers in line for haircuts.

"Can’t wait to see the staff and can’t wait to see our clients," Mrs Radel said.

"It’s going to be awesome to spend time with them again.’

Frustrated ... Klone Hair owner Danelle Radel can communicate with her staff and clients from...
Klone Hair owner Danelle Radel is "overjoyed" . PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

She said they needed clarification over personal protective equipment [PPE].

"How we use it, where it can be sourced from and what’s the criteria with it. Can I use my homemade mask for the whole day or whole three weeks?"

Speight’s Ale House operator Mark Scully said he was conflicted as to how the business would look now.

"Look I’m happy about going back in ... but I’m nervous about what the ‘new normal’ is."

Mr Scully said the decision customers had to be seated was a bit of a surprise.

"People will be that keen to get in they will adhere to the rules.

"Anyone who jeopardises that and gets shut down — because let's face it Level 2 could be months — and if you blew that ... you could be shut down for several months."

Otago Motel Association president Alex Greenan, who owns Dunedin Palms Motel in High St described Alert Level 2 as "a good start" to getting businesses like his back on their feet again.

He was particularly happy to have domestic travel allowed again.

"That’s gold for us.

"Obviously it’s going to take a long, long time to get that level of confidence they had before back but at the start ... there’s a lot of markets there that can start to move.

"Then the business starts moving and then the economy starts to head in the right direction."

The Prime Minister also announced sport and recreation could return, including professional sports competitions with crowds ruled out.

Careful extension of services at Southern DHB

Southern DHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming said there would be a "careful expansion of services" of the services it offered.

"After the Prime Minister’s briefing this afternoon outlining the principles of Alert Level 2, Southern DHB is continuing to plan further reinstatement of services and how it can operate safely for both patients, whānau and staff.

"This is a continuously evolving situation and we are having to make decisions in real time, which are responsive to the changing circumstances.

The parameters outlined for Level 2 were pleasing and reinforced the confidence in New Zealand's achievements as a country.

"However vigilance will continue to be required and we all have a role to play in maintaining this."

"Broadly we would expect a move to Alert Level 2 to continue the careful expansion of services that began under Alert Level 3.

With the move from Level 4 to Level 3 elective surgery and outpatient appointments had resumed where this can be done safely.

"Under Level 3 patient contact is still only permitted where essential for treatment that cannot be deferred. 

"Non-patient contact options, such as telephone or Zoom, have been expanded where appropriate to support treatment that had been deferred."

Decisions around how services would operate at Level 2 would be made over the coming days.  This information would be made available to the public in due course.

Southern DHB thanked its patients, whānau and the wider community for their understanding and patience at this time.

"We remind our community that our emergency departments are open and ready to assist people who need urgent medical treatment. 

"I urge people who need treatment not to delay, but to come forward and seek the treatment they need."

Queenstown

Air New Zealand is set to include Queenstown in its flight schedules at alert level 2, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.

Mr Walker said the airline's decision was "fantastic news" for a community hit hard by Covid-19.

He said Air New Zealand deserved a "huge thank you" for listening to the almost 5,500 people who signed his petition calling for services to the airport to resume.

“For Air New Zealand to include these services when they are still not commercially viable shows they are committed to supporting us here in the south.”

“Physical distancing will still be required on these flights but we look forward to the Government reviewing this in future.”

"If Queenstown is to get through this Covid-19 pandemic we need visitors coming south, and these flights will enable this.”

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult applauded today’s announcement on what COVID-19 Alert Level 2 will look like, and the positive steps that it will mean for our district.

“In no uncertain terms, I can tell you it will be a huge relief to many local businesses to know they can open their doors to customers once again," he said.

"A big part of our local economy, and especially in our main centres of Queenstown and Wānaka, is based around hospitality.

"So the fact that bars, restaurants and cafés can now open, albeit within strict guidelines, is a chance for people to start putting money back in their accounts, paying their bills and starting to get on with a new normal. And the wellbeing benefit for our wider community and the individuals who have been unable to trade in all sectors will be massive."

Southland

Southland Regional Development Agency Great South's chief executive Graham Budd said while today's announcement was mostly good, there were a couple areas of concern.

The first was the limit of 100 people at indoor and outdoor gatherings and what restrictions that would have on events starting up again.

The second uncertainty was "when" it would happen.

However, he was pleased inter-regional travel could happen, not just for holiday-makers but for families and business.

"With a population of under 100,000 across the Southland region we really needed to open up to the populations of our neighbouring regions and the rest of the country." 

Invercargill's Transport World Marketing and Tourism manager Hannah Whyte said they were "very relieved" with the Government's announcement.

"It gives tourism operators, like Transport World, the chance to begin their long road to recovery. Having the ability to attract guests from out of town gives us a shot and it will be welcome news to many tourism and hospitality businesses.

"New Zealanders have done an incredible job so far in their efforts against Covid-19 and when Level 2 comes into effect, we’ll be taking our responsibilities around opening very seriously.

"Our guests’ health and safety is paramount." 

Add a Comment

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter